Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition
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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The second edition of this Handbook contains more than 30 new and original articles as well as six essential updates by leading scholars of global environmental politics. This landmark book maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this energetic and growing field. Captured here are the pioneering and lively debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 30: Trade–Environment Politics: The Emerging Role of Regional Trade Agreements

Sikina Jinnah


Sikina Jinnah Trade–environment politics is about understanding and managing the impacts of diverging rules and norms in global governance. Despite claims of “win–wins” and more recently “triplewins,” at their heart the underlying goals of trade liberalization and environmental protection are fundamentally at odds.1 Trade liberalization is primarily aimed at increasing economic welfare through the opening and expanding of global markets in goods and services. At its core, trade liberalization aims to increase global production and consumption. The underlying assumption is of course that the more we are able to produce, sell, and consume the better will be our quality of life. On the other hand, environmental degradation is driven by consumption. Consumption is supported by extraction of the earth’s renewable and non-renewable resources. The more we consume the more we degrade. Although reusing and recycling are important elements in mitigating environmental degradation, it is the third element in the popular tripartite slogan – reducing, particularly in the developed world – that must be grappled with if we aim to effectively address environmental degradation. Reducing consumption however is not part of the mainstream discourse of international trade liberalization, and ironically is rare even in contemporary discussions of global environmental problem solving. These discussions tend to shy away from the politically intractable issue of “confronting consumption.”2 Rather, market- and other incentive-based policy tools (“win– wins” for environment and business) have become the en vogue approach to environmental problem solving. For example, emissions trading is central to the Kyoto Protocol’s operation, and...

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